I know the most popular TED Talks are from the likes of Sir Ken Robinson, Sal Khan, and Daphne Koller, but they are not my favorite presenters, although their presentations in relation to education were very interesting, there are more important issues in education from which you can find very good TED Talks presenters, which I call off the beaten path because the ones mentioned are popular and more well-known.
Take for example the presentation by Sam Kass, former chef to the White House during the Obama administration. Children coming to school malnourished or even hungry are great issues in education. You cannot expect a child to learn if they are hungry, or if their diet is loaded with sugars and high-calorie foods. Unfortunately, this country suffers from food insecurity, many children will perform poorly in school due to this lack of nutrition, they could be left behind, with very few skills to face this new economy. Sam presents his ideas and how he is helping with fighting this problem. One thing to mention is his confession of how unaware he was of this problem, and how he stumbled upon it. It is worth watching.
My next selection is a little bit closer to my heart, just because I love mathematics and the notion we are surrounded by its beauty. Roger Antonsen presents an easy to understand view of mathematics, through the patterns we can find around us. He presents many examples that show the beauty of geometry and numbers, and he does it with such good humor, you will not be bored by this presentation. It helped me understand (like he says, he changed my perspective) that mathematics, and science in general, can be taught in a very interesting way, we could even use humor in our classes. Even though I am not able to come up with a joke right now that would at least make you smile.
Immediately after I watch Roger Antonsen, my eye caught another interesting presentation by Victor Rios. I like his presentation because it is inspired on his upbringing as a inner-city kid (I sometimes find myself saying that I had a difficult upbringing, after seeing his presentation, I am not sure I can make that claim anymore) and how this led him to a career devoted to helping kids in situations similar to those he faced during his childhood. Even though the subject might seem somber, he actually looks at it with a positive spin, he is even able to make his audience laugh. He explains how he tries to concentrate on the things his students bring to the classroom and not the things that they might be lacking. I believe we need a positive view of life such as his. Through his experience, he inspires to look at teaching as a way to open up the eyes of our students even more, to show them the way. We shouldn’t see ourselves as disciplinarians but as educators genuinely interested in the future of our students.
The last of my recommendations is not actually a less-known presentation, this one is actually quite popular, and it brings up such an important point. I have seen this many times with my very young five-year-old. If she takes on something (the other day I was teaching her the numbers beyond ten, until one hundred). At first, she didn’t know how to say twenty or thirty, and she usually would just give up. I started encouraging her to say anything that came up to her head, and she started saying those numbers that she knew, and sounded like the numbers I was teaching. For example, she would say thirteen instead of thirty. Far from telling her she was wrong, I encouraged her to associate that number with the ones I was teaching her, I wanted her to see the pattern. I also wanted her to understand that she should not give up on something just because it is too hard to do, that she can try things until she gets it. Grit is a very important concept we can teach our children. This is why I love Angela Lee Duckworth’s presentation. She delivers it with such confidence and a matter-of-fact way that you cannot take your attention off of it. I highly recommend it.